I came across a quote in the culture of make believe from an interview by Derrick Jensen with an environmental activist. The quote sums up my thinking really well.
“International trade and the whole corporate stare are based on a set of delusions that have been institutionalizing and hemming us in for the past six thousand years. We weren’t always so destructive. But for some reason maybe six thousand years ago we began to see ourselves as separate from the world, separate from-and set against – other tribes, other cultures, other species: others. How you behave depends on how you see and feel your self. Once we see ourselves as separate from the rest of the world, we start to se every other being as a mere thing, and we begin to believe that we can get away with working our will on the world, that their wont be negative consequences for attempting to do so, for pretending we’re separate but … ignorance or denial of ecological law in no way exempts us from the consequences of our actions”
The dominant culture tries very hard to and manages very well at divorcing us from the reality of our actions and through its economic, legal and “moral” systems makes it all but impossible to live a sustainable life. This planned and deliberate alienation from anything but our cultures reality, combined with systematic indoctrination that this system is the only system makes our own beliefs, feelings and intentions largely irrelevant. A purposeful objectification of our surroundings, of the plants animals and peoples we come into contact with allows for us to partake in the genocide of all life on earth including human life while still retaining a sense of our own morality and righteousness.
When the our forests, oceans and people became objects it becomes possible to engage in its purposeful destruction still go home sane. Because the animals in factory farms are objects we can torture them all day and go home to our pets which we love so much. The purposeful objectification and standardization of reality into an assembly line shape allows for the greatest atrocities to be committed and for us to not see them, and indeed for them to not exist. The dichotomy we are taught to hold allows the factory owner to be friends with a worker and still exploit them, allows the murderer to kill while still maintaining regular social relations, allows the farm worker to brutally kill animals and the cop to beat unarmed civilians when ordered to. This is only possible through the objectification of our surroundings and a complete disconnect with all life.
This is what makes it so hard for us as people who care about the environment, the public can completely agree with us, they can profess to love the environment and no doubt some do. But while this disconnect occurs, while people can not hear the voice of the land an animals they will continue to participate in destructive behavior and not feel or connect with the suffering of others. This disconnect also makes it stupid to and indeed impossible to rely on the humanity of those in power because to those in power the ongoing destruction of the environment let alone humans does not exist.
This is why so much effort is made to try and make things real to the public, to try and break through the wall created by society. As activists we are not only fighting to stop destruction but have the added burden of trying o make people care about something that has no meaning to them. If from birth you have been taught that animals plants and the land do not have unique voices do not have feelings and do not need to be respected then you can not harm them. To defeat this culture we need to reawaken our own ecological consciousness and the ecological consciousness of those around us we need to come to see all life as sacred and to see our place as one of many not the only one.
I am not advocating heroic doses of mushrooms – though that may work for some, I am advocating a respectful openness to the world around us and a purposeful effort to connect with our surroundings. For me I find this easiest to do where I live, garden and in areas where weeds are fighting against our cursed city’s. For others this connection may be easiest to find through meditation or wild unspoilt landscapes.
Until we transcend the dominant cultures experience of reality we will be doomed to repeat over and over the same abusive relationships with the land, animals, and each other. When the barriers between ourselves and our environments disappear we come to realize that we are fighting for our own freedom that the fight for the land is our own fight.